Penllergare Valley Woods

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Restoration Update: March 2014

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As a local independent charity, we rely on an amazing team of volunteers from all backgrounds who work tirelessly to protect and revive Penllergare Valley Woods for public benefit. Local people have breathed life into the woods and have come together because they care about its history, wildlife and people. There has been an incredible amount of work going on behind the scenes by volunteers over the past 14 years to get us to where we are today and faced with the exciting but challenging prospect of the second half of a major restoration project and a 104 year lease of the woods, we are thrilled to be welcoming more and more enthusiastic and committed people with a passion for Valley Woods to our growing team of volunteers.

With this in mind, we’re pleased to announce that last month was a special one for some of our woodland volunteers. On Thursday 20th February, they celebrated their fifth anniversary since starting in the woods. This itself represents a significant and highly valued commitment of time and energy.

Happy 5th Anniversary

Happy 5th Anniversary

The range of work undertaken and the progress made by all of our volunteers – past and present – has been extraordinary and as a voluntary organisation we most certainly couldn’t do it without them.  Well done and thank you to everyone for making such a difference! If you would like to show your support for our dedicated volunteers with a donation towards tools, equipment and other essential items, then we’d be very pleased to hear from you…!! Just get in touch or use the donation button on the restoration blog – www.penllergare.wordpress.com.

CAR PARK & COFFEE SHOP
We celebrated St David’s Day with style in the coffee shop on 1st March with daffodils on the tables and welshcakes and bara brith on offer. Overall we had a brilliant half term – it was so lovely to welcome lots of people (especially families) after such a wet January and February and we’re pleased to finally have a regular income stream to help sustain Valley Woods for the future. The restoration trail and wildlife spotter sheets went down a treat with little ones too!

Available in the Coffee Shop

We are only able to stay open 7 days per week thanks to the time, effort and support of our brilliant team of 35 volunteer coffee shop assistants. From 15th March 2014, we will extend our hours to 10am – 4pm and if we have enough support, we hope to extend our hours into the evening in the Summer too. If you can spare 3 hours per week or fortnight to help run our coffee shop, please do get in touch.

The clearance work just in front of the coffee shop has progressed extremely well with woodland volunteers and staff working very hard to prepare the ground for some new shrub planting. These dogs are definitely impressed!! Or are they scanning the terraces for squirrels?!?

Dogs enjoying the terrace. photo by Philip james

Dogs enjoying the terrace. Photo by Philip james

With a lighter tree cover, the ground flora will burst into life in the spring, no doubt throwing up some surprises. Invasive brambles have been dug up and removed in order to make future maintenance easier. A primrose is in flower near to the car park entrance and the recently planted snowdrops and daffodils are all coming through. Don’t forget that you can still give a donation towards the cost of a rhododendron, azalea, wild daffodils or snowdrops via our online shop: http://penllergare.tictail.com

Snowdrops and Butterfly on East Bank by Janet Whitelock (March 2014)

Snowdrops and Butterfly on East Bank by Janet Whitelock (March 2014)

Despite being so close to the M4 and urban life, it is not surprising to hear birdsong in the woods. In fact as the days pass and the evenings get fractionally lighter, the chorus has been building – at dawn and dusk there is a cacophany of sound. What’s great is that because there is little or no foliage on the trees and bushes at this time of year, we are able to see the birds as well as hear them. Our volunteers and visitors have been donating bird feeders, peanuts and fat balls to put up in the trees opposite the coffee shop terrace and so far we have seen everything from robins, nuthatches and treecreepers to blue tits, long tail tits and woodpeckers! Volunteer wildlife photographer, Peter Thomas, has managed to capture some smashing shots of them. Here’s one of his pictures of a robin and nuthatch having a stand off!

Photo by Peter Thomas.

Photo by Peter Thomas.

UPPER LAKE & ARCHIMEDEAN SCREW

The lake contractors completed a list of snagging items around the hydro site in February, including opening up the earth dam that was put in to ensure a dry working area during construction last year. The third spillway on the waterfall, dry for several months, has started up again – the waterfall is back to its original glorious form!
Photo by Caroline Rowe via Facebook - Feb 2014

Photo by Caroline Rowe via Facebook – Feb 2014

The cable and connection to the National Grid are in; the IT systems to enable the performance of the turbine to be monitored remotely is all in and connected and the water in the reception lagoon has now settled. Exciting news!! Engineers ran the turbine for the first time last week! 🙂 This is to make ensure that the systems and mechanisms are all set up for optimum efficiency before commissioning.

WOODLAND MANAGEMENT – Can you help?
On Wednesday 19th March at 6.30pm in the Woodland Centre, an exploratory meeting is planned for voluntary rangers and anyone who is interested in participating in a voluntary task force to tackle ongoing jobs in the woods. If you’re a regular ranger or visitor and want to do something more practical but perhaps cannot make the regular commitment to a Tuesday or Thursday woodland volunteering working group, then this could be for you. We’re looking for small groups of two or three, working together at times to suit your availability, to get involved with jobs in the woods such as path and bridge inspections, repairs and maintenance, strimming verges, building and repairing steps, litter collection, keeping drainage ditches clear etc etc. Tools, training and full induction will be given. With 260 acres of woods and over 7 miles of paths and tracks to look after, and a growing number of visitors, this is a most important part of our work and an opportunity for you to contribute to your community whilst also gaining friendship and skills in the great outdoors! If you can’t make the meeting, but might be interested in this opportunity, then please get in touch – we’d love to talk with you.

HISTORIC PHOTO OF THE MONTH
“The old A48 at Cadle mid 1950s. The building on the right was a concrete blockhouse built during WW2 when the threat of a German invasion hung over the country. Notice the bus-stop on the left. A lot of rain back then too! Photo by kind permission of June Phillips.” Brian Meredith

Cadle in 1950s. Photo by June Phillips

Old A48 at Cadle in 1950s. Photo by June Phillips

FUNDRAISING & EVENTS
Forest Schools SNPT have been holding training days for future Forest School Leaders and forest school playschemes for local children at our campfire pit and woodland centre (educational classroom) this month. If you would like to hire our woodland centre for your training day or meeting, please do get in touch.

Photo by Angie Reikers (Forest School SNPT)

Photo by Angie Rekers (Forest School SNPT)

Forest School is an innovative and inspiring approach to learning for children and young people of all ages and adults. The aims are to raise self esteem and self confidence and raise awareness and appreciation of the natural environment. To find out more, visit http://www.forestschoolsnpt.org.uk/about.html

Not only did Abbie Jebson survive the 5 day intensive Level 3 leader training last week but she’s still got the energy for biscuits and writing about her forest school journey! http://wildchildswansea.wordpress.com/ Watch this space – Abbie (also a local primary school teacher) will be joining us soon as a volunteer to organise some nature-related children’s events in school holidays!

Photo by Angie Reikers (Forest School SNPT)

Photo by Angie Rekers (Forest School SNPT)

Don’t forget that the deadline for collecting coupons in the South Wales Evening Post is on 15th March. We’d be most grateful if you could hand in your coupons in the Visitor Centre by Wednesday 19th March so that they can be delivered to SWEP on time. Thanks a million!

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FRIENDS – THE YEAR AHEAD
The Friends of Penllergare held their first meeting of the year on Wednesday 12th March at the Llewelyn Hall, Penllergaer at 7.30pm. The main topic for the evening was ‘The Year Ahead’ when we highlighted some elements of the 2014 Friends programme and explained preliminary plans for the Potting Shed Sale in May. There was also an opportunity to sign up to the 100 Club before the first draw of the season. The evening concluded with the first public showing of ‘Penllergare – the Movie!’, a video made by the late E.Vyron Williams in 2008. This ‘work in progress’ is an evocative account of a walk from Cadle to Melin Llan through Valley Woods that we thought had been lost but now, thanks to his family, it has been re-mastered onto DVD and is a fitting tribute to someone who loved Penllergare for nearly 80 years.

PICTURES PAINT A THOUSAND WORDS…
We have started to create an online gallery of photographs – all taken by staff, volunteers, Trustees, supporters and visitors – to show the progress of the restoration project so far, the diversity of wildlife to be seen and the beauty of this special place! You can see the online Flickr gallery (in development!) here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/penllergare/sets/ Thank you to everyone who has sent in/shared photographs so far.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO FIND OUT MORE…

Do feel free to pop in to chat with our volunteers, to have a cup of tea and/or to pick up a leaflet at any time.

You can also keep up to date via www.facebook.com/penllergare or www.twitter.com/penllergare

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1 Comment

  1. Christopher Evans says:

    All involved with this work should be praised. Cann’t wait to see the woods in colour once more.

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